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Jon Warner – Author, Speaker, Management Consultant and Executive Coach

Leadership and Management

Why Leadership Style is Important

Why Leadership Style is Important

Leadership style refers to an approach taken by a particular leader. It might refer to a directive or commanding style or a participative or collaborative style. It might equally refer to a leader who has a visionary style or who is coaching-centered. There are many other style labels that we might add.

Some leaders are prone to use one general style in almost all situations. Other leaders “flex” their style to meet the particular needs of each situation encountered. In both cases however, it is important for the leaders to know what their main style preferences are so that they can evaluate the likely effectiveness of that style in a given set of circumstances (or know how far they may need to change their style in order to get a better result).

One very useful model of general style preferences, which can be applied to leadership, was developed by the psychologist Carl Jung in the early 1920’s (and enhanced by several psychologists in the years since).  In his work, Jung identify that some of the key preference combinations – such as the Sensing (S)-Intuitive (N), Judging (J)-Perceiving (P), and Thinking (T)-Feeling (F) preferences (whether extroverted or introverted) would significantly influence the way people approach their work. Jung’s work eventually led to four combinations that are useful when we are thinking about leadership style and these are summarized in the table below.

The Sensing Judgment Type
(SJ)
The Sensing Perceiving Type (SP) The Intuitive Thinking Type (NT) The Intuitive Feeling Type (NF)
Leadership Style: Traditionalist, stabilizer, consolidator

Has a sense of duty, responsibility, loyalty and industry

Trouble-shooter, negotiator, fire-fighter

Seeks to act with cleverness seeking short cuts to save time or effort where possible

Visionary, Architect, Systems builder

Seeks to add ingenuity and logic to ideas and actions

Catalyst, spokes-person, energizer

Likes to persuade people about values and personal inspirations

Tends to be noticed for: Being hardworking,  reliable and dependable Being resourceful, risk taking and spontaneous Being competent, expert and logical Being open, authentic and inclusive

This table suggests the following:

The “Sensing-Judging” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via tangible, concrete, “five-senses” approaches, and likes order, closure, schedules and decisiveness) suggests a “traditional” or “instructional” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Safely persistent”.

The “Sensing-Perceiving” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via tangible, concrete, “five-senses” approaches, and likes options, flexibility, opportunity, and freedom to adapt) suggests a “troubleshooter” or “pragmatic” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Resourceful pragmatism”.

The “Intuitive-Thinking” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via the abstract, big picture, conceptual “intangible” approach, and makes decisions based on argument, logic and objective criteria), suggests a “visionary” or “rational” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Conceptually Flexible”.

The “Intuitive-Feeling” combination (where the person prefers to inform themselves via the abstract, big picture, conceptual “intangible” approach, and makes decisions based on values, beliefs and “what’s best for those involved” suggests a “catalyst” or “idealist” approach to work. A summary term for this style is “Optimistic collaboration”.

Summary

The qualities required to show leadership can be demonstrated by all types of people in many different ways and as we have seen with many differing styles. They can all be equally effective (or ineffective!) in performing a leadership role. However, to be successful, especially over the longer term, people need to understand their style of leadership and how this may impact on others. This can help us to minimize our blind spots, which might derail us in a particular situation.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon is Editor-in-chief of ReadyToManage, Inc. and can be reached at Jon@OD-center.org

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4 Comments

  1. Angela GoodeveOctober 2, 2012 at 9:52 pmReply

    Nice article Jon. Probably the most important thing is knowing where your tenancy lies so that you can be flexible when needed. Knowing different styles also helps in dealing with others, especially if their style is different from yours!

    • Dr. Jon WarnerOctober 10, 2012 at 9:18 pmReplyAuthor

      Yes Angela -I could not agree more.

  2. Samir Abdallah AliOctober 11, 2012 at 7:37 amReply

    Good article, i do think however that all managers need more than one management style. For me, its a cycle. when i first start at a place im more autocratic as i stamp my authority on a place. once done it becomes beuracratic as sytems and proceedures are put into place finally becomeing democratic where others then have the opportunity to make suggestions of influence policy making and general day to day running of the operation

    • Dr. Jon WarnerOctober 11, 2012 at 2:59 pmReplyAuthor

      Thanks. Yes Samir-I agree, this is a fairly common progression as managerial certainty an confidence grows and group ability matures, a leader can increasingly let go.

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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